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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

More suckers sought

Not sure this is such a good idea:

Indiana's lottery commission voted Wednesday to hire a private company to take over its marketing and other services in the hopes that it will boost the lottery's profits.

The commission voted 3-0 with two members absent to approve a contract with Rhode Island-based GTECH that will pay the company $1.7 billion over five years. GTECH already provides and maintains vending machines for the Hoosier Lottery.

[. . .]

Private companies already handle 88 percent of lottery operations and the outsourcing proposal would increase that to 95 percent, executive director Karl Browning said last week. Indiana would retain full ownership and control of the lottery, he said.

Browning has said part of the increased revenue would come from a plan to "broaden the player base."

I'm generally not opposed to outsourcing or privatizing, but this is on a different level than, say, leasing the toll road or contracting out your water or sewer service. The rule of thumb should be that if a service is valuable to the citizenry it should be privatized if that would provide the service at the same level or better, at a lower cost. When the service is not valuable -- when, in fact, it is a sordid little enterpisre that exploits people's weaknesses -- it should be phased out, not xpanded. "Broaden the player base" means the state will pay a private company money to figure out ways to exploit even more Hoosiers.